Digital data protection to fundamental rights in Brazil

The Brazilian Senate has approved a proposal to add protection of data in digital platforms to the list of fundamental rights and individual citizen guarantees set out in the country’s constitution.

According to senator Simone Tebet, rapporteur of the proposal – which will now be voted by the lower house of the National Congress – the federal government should be responsible for legislation. She noted that adding the topic to the constitution demonstrates central government recognizes the importance of the topic.

“State and society should be entitled, as a general rule, to knowledge about each other, as long as there is a real need. Other than that, data privacy should be preserved as much as possible,” Tebet added.

Brazil’s general data protection law was due to go live in February 2020 but a stopgap measure signed by former president Michel Temer just before leaving office in January 2019 has extended the deadline to August next year.

Earlier this year, the National Authority for Personal Data Protection has also been created , with attributions including the creation of frameworks on how to handle information and guide organizations on how to adhere to the rules. The authority will also be responsible for monitoring and applying fines to non-compliant organizations.

The new developments emerge among new public concerns around digital privacy sparked by a series of reports published by news website The Intercept. The reports cast doubts on the integrity of the main actors of Operation Car Wash, a major investigation into money laundering in Brazil.

The website obtained, from an anonymous source, what it described as an “enormous trove” of text and audio communication carried out over messaging service Telegram, as well as video and other digital information, exchanged between federal prosecutors and the main judge in the investigation, Sergio Moro.

Moro, now the country’s justice minister, has since denied wrongdoing and in a statement has condemned “the distorted and sensationalist diffusion of supposed messages obtained by criminal means”.

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